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Classical 101

A La boheme for Columbus

Opera Columbus continues its renaissance with a new way to present La boheme. You know the drill. Impoverished students in Paris, circa 1850, live in cold but manage with wine, women and song. Puccini used Henri Murger's Scenes de la vie de boheme as the basis for his opera. The cold, the cafe, the muff, the death: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8X89GIRUv0 Along comes Opera Columbus and CAPA wanting to do something new. Rent has been a smash for years and Rent is based on La boheme. Can we use Puccini to build a new audience? YES! Last night my daughter and I went to see Opera Columbus's new production of La boheme at Shadowbox-a venue reminiscent of the wonderful show-biz 'rooms' of an earlier time. It's a fancy restaurant and bar, and a performance space with its own company headed by Steve Guyer (no 'e' at the end, please.) Steve's a favorite guest of mine on All Sides Weekend/Arts. So is soprano Peggy Dye, Opera Columbus 's new Head Diva in Charge. Together, Shadowbox and the Opera are presenting La boheme, in English, sung by attractive, young local artists (last night the baritone had a wardrobe malfunction, affording us more than we paid for), all performed in the restaurant space.  And I do mean performed. There was keyboard accompaniment, and some fine voices. The space was used well. The tiny stage encouraged the singers to work the room.  Musetta sang her waltz (beautifully) five feet from me.  If several gentlemen in the vicinity had coronaries from the lady's charms, they woulda died happy. La boheme, intimate, musical, lovely, and sad in English, almost in your lap.  Don't miss this, Sundays at 5 at Shadowbox, 503 S. Front St. Admission FREE. (Yes) FREE. No excuse. Our baritone friend will probably have a belt for his pants, but Musetta will remain potent. All the singers and the formidable pianist will delight you. As will Puccini. Welcome back, Opera Columbus.    

Christopher Purdy is Classical 101's early morning host, 7-10 a.m. weekdays. He is host and producer of Front Row Center – Classical 101’s weekly celebration of Opera and more – as well as Music in Mid-Ohio, Concerts at Ohio State, and the Columbus Symphony broadcast series. He is the regular pre-concert speaker for Columbus Symphony performances in the Ohio Theater.